COVID-19 Updates

Your Safety Is Our Priority

Our top priority is the health, safety and well-being of people living in the communities we serve, as well as volunteers, staff and partners. Although we have implemented new operational standards, including measures to prevent infection, these measures cannot guarantee that you will avoid becoming infected with COVID-19. Attending an All Hands and Hearts program may increase your risk of contracting COVID-19.

If you are planning to volunteer, please review the following information on the threat of being exposed to COVID-19.

All Hands and Hearts is implementing safety control measures to address the following COVID-19 risks:

How We’re Keeping You Safe

Preventative Measures

Below are the safety measures we have implemented across our programs; further safety measures are being developed.

Pre-Arrival Testing

We require all arriving volunteers to have achieved a negative result from a molecular-biological (polymerase chain reaction or PCR test) or antigen COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of arrival at our base. We cannot accept antibody testing. We require proof of your test results on arrival.

We require this in an effort to reduce the likelihood of a person arriving while infected with COVID-19. Learn more about types of COVID-19 tests from the FDA.

If you cannot get a test within 72 hours of arrival, we will work with you to see how we may be able to help. Under limited circumstances, an extension may be granted.

Health Screening

All volunteers and staff will undergo health screening and regular monitoring to help identify any individual who may be infected with COVID-19 or show any symptoms associated with the disease.

Before you arrive

  • Perform self-checks for 14 days prior to your arrival, checking for the presence of any of the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Declare whether you have been in close contact with someone in the last 14 days who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Complete a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. Please see the section above on testing if this is not possible.

On arrival

On arrival, we will do the following:

  • Ask you to report the state of your health before entering base.
  • Check your temperature at the entrance to base.
  • Verify that your recent COVID-19 test had a negative result.
  • Conduct an arrival COVID-19 test to ensure you are still COVID-19 free.

Throughout your time volunteering
We will ask you to closely monitor your health, and declare any development of symptoms at the earliest opportunity. We will:

  • Conduct regular testing of staff and volunteers to quickly identify potential COVID-19 cases.
  • Perform regular temperature checks.
  • Require daily self-declarations of current health status.

Responsible Physical Distancing

Our base of operations and work sites are designed to allow for responsible physical distancing.

Normal Situation

  • We ask that you continue to respect the personal space of others.
  • If you find yourself within six feet of external contractors, community members, or any other external individuals, please limit your interactions to no more than 15 minutes. In other words, do not develop a “close contact” as defined by the CDC.
  • We have a communal space that we will use for meetings

Increased Risk (of a localized outbreak)

  • Extra emphasis on the use of PPE, even whilst on base.
  • Less interaction between groups.
  • Communal social spaces may be closed.
  • Community is given updated information and we interact with members of the community only when necessary until the situation is fully understood.

Localized Outbreak

  • Operations may be suspended and our base may become quarantined.
  • Communication (but not contact) will continue with the community.

Increased Hygiene and Sanitation Measures

Our base of operations and vehicles will be thoroughly and regularly cleaned and disinfected. Increased hygiene and sanitation efforts include:

Personal Hygiene
Simple personal hygiene, including frequent handwashing, and not touching your eyes, nose or mouth, is essential to minimizing the spread of coronavirus and other viruses. All team members will be strongly encouraged to engage in frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer will be prominently placed and easily accessible at base and on work sites.

Sanitation Measures

  • Regular disinfection of shared areas and high touch points by trained cleaners.
  • Promotion of good ventilation on base and worksites.
  • Safe food hygiene, laundry and disposal practices.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

We ask that every staff member and volunteer wear a face covering when in public. We will provide disposable masks and make other personal protective equipment, such as goggles and gloves, freely available. If there is an increased risk of exposure to the virus (i.e., if there is a local outbreak), we will provide greater levels of respiratory protection (e.g., three-ply masks and N95 masks) and other PPE, in accordance with a specific risk assessment.

AHAH Contact Tracing

We are implementing manual contact tracing solutions to help track close contacts within our bases of operation. Contact tracing and isolation of people with COVID-19 and close contacts are critical to helping slow the transmission of COVID-19 (consult the CDC website for more information).

Response to Exposure and Infection

We must accept the possibility of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and being infected by it. To guide our response to the situation, we have a location-specific contingency plan for promoting the safety of all involved. In our approach to isolating potentially infected team members and quarantining their close contacts, we will follow the guidance provided by the CDC and by local authorities.

We will offer the potential patient-supported isolation. All Hands and Hearts will provide food, accommodation, communication devices and access to mental health services for the duration of any required isolation. We will ask the individual to complete a confirmatory COVID-19 PCR test as soon as it is safe to do so. The length of isolation will be in line with the latest guidance from the CDC, and local guidelines (whichever is more strict).

In line with CDC guidance, and using the tools from our contract tracing control measures, we will establish a list of those who have had close contact with the potential carrier from 2 days before they developed symptoms (or 2 days before the positive test for asymptomatic individuals). We will contact each of these people, notify them of the potential exposure and advise them to act in accordance with quarantine guidelines.

For contacts in our program, we will offer a supported quarantine. This means that All Hands and Hearts will provide food, accommodation, communication devices and access to mental health services for the duration of any required quarantine. Duration of quarantine will be in line with the latest guidance from the CDC.

If you are fully vaccinated we will follow the process in accordance with the latest guidance from the CDC on Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People, unless local restrictions do not differentiate between vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals.

Program Specific Guides

How do I apply to volunteer?
Visit our current list of active programs here, select a location and follow the link to proceed with your application! One of our team will be in touch with more information. In the meantime, if you have any questions please reach out to [email protected]

Where can I learn more about the coronavirus disease to better prepare myself?
For more information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease and Controls (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.

How will you keep the communities you serve safe?
We will adhere to local external regulations and adapt our safety measures to the evolving situation in the specific location we are working.

We are taking preventative measures to keep our team members, including volunteers, symptom-free, and to quickly identify symptoms if they do develop. We will minimize interaction with the community, and we will monitor and track close contacts if and when we must interact with the community. We will test our staff and volunteers regularly to reduce the likelihood of onward transmission of COVID-19. All residential staff and volunteers are also required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

When we hire members of the community, we will carefully explain the risks to them, provide them with all necessary personal protective equipment, and provide them with training about the safety measures appropriate to their role.

What measures are you taking to prevent COVID-19 when you welcome volunteers from all over the world?
Please refer to the section HOW WE’RE KEEPING YOU SAFE above, and email us at [email protected] if you have additional questions.

Are there any restrictions on who can volunteer?
All volunteers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The term fully vaccinated refers to when an individual has received either the single-shot vaccine or both doses of a two-shot vaccine, and two weeks have elapsed since the final dose.

What if my country imposes travel restrictions? How can I get to the program? 
All Hands and Hearts is unable to account for or make any special accommodation in response to the travel restrictions of individual countries. Prospective volunteers should review the local regulations that apply to them and comply with the advice.

Will there be stricter limits on how many volunteers are allowed on site at a program base?
Yes. As part of our physical distancing measures, we have reviewed each of our locations and changed how we use them so we can better cope with COVID-19. This means fewer spaces are available spaces at each base.

What should I do in terms of temperature checks and testing to prepare for my arrival?
As the day of your trip approaches, make sure that you are symptom-free by regularly taking your temperature and by monitoring for other symptoms. Please inform us if you have had COVID-19 symptoms at any point within 14 days of your planned arrival. You will also need to take a COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before your arrival. We require you to show negative test results when you arrive at base. This policy is necessary to ensure, to the extent possible, that persons joining our program are not infected with COVID-19.

What type of COVID-19 testing do I need to have?
All Hands and Hearts follows the expert advice of authorities such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in regard to the correct use of different types of test. The FDA guidance can be found here. For pre-arrival testing, we require volunteers to obtain an antigen or molecular test within 72 hours of arrival. We cannot accept antibody testing for this purpose. When possible, we will prefer the use of molecular-biological COVID-19 test (a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test)

The technology of COVID-19 testing is changing rapidly, and we will continue to review the most up-to-date tools available to us. We will notify prospective volunteers if we make any changes regarding what tests we will accept.

What if I show symptoms when I arrive?
Our health screening measures reduce the likelihood that any person with COVID-19 symptoms will enter the base. If a person nonetheless arrives with symptoms, we will implement our response plan. This would include isolating the person in separate accommodations.

What types of face coverings do I need to wear?
In normal circumstances, we ask that you cover your face with a mask or other face covering. This can be any cloth covering that meets the following requirements:

  • The covering fully covers your mouth and nose.
  • It fits snugly against the sides of your face, leaving no gaps.
  • You have no difficulty breathing while wearing the cloth face covering.
  • It can be tied or otherwise secured to prevent slipping.

All Hands and Hearts will provide a stock of disposable masks for your use. You are also welcome to bring your own cloth face covering. For more information, please refer to this guidance from the CDC.

How will you support volunteers with COVID-19 mental health impacts?
To foster the well-being of our team members around the globe, we have partnered with On Call, an international tele-counseling service, to provide access to crisis intervention and short-term counseling services (by regular phone calls or video calls). Counselors are available 24 hours a day to provide immediate crisis intervention, and the plan includes three free sessions after the initial call. This resource is available to you as a volunteer working on program.

What if someone in the program has COVID-19?
The purpose of our health screening measures is to quickly identify any symptomatic patients. Once we have done so, we will implement our location-specific response plan to promote the safety of all.

Will I have to isolate if I have symptoms?
If you exhibit symptoms, we will ask you to move to our supported isolation facility. All Hands and Hearts will provide food, accommodation, communication devices and access to mental health services for the duration of any required isolation. We will also ask you to complete a COVID-19 test as soon as it is safe to do so. The duration of isolation will be in accordance with the latest guidance from the CDC.

If I get COVID-19 while participating in the program, will AHAH cover my medical expenses?
Our organizational medical insurance policy covers you if you are volunteering outside of your home country in the event of any injury or illness while you are participating in our program. If you have any questions about our insurance policy, please do not hesitate to ask and we will be happy to help.

If anything changes with respect to COVID-19 within a country, what is the plan for volunteers?
All Hands and Hearts have established a system to monitor the local situation and to increase or decrease safety controls as the situation warrants. The goal is to align our controls with the current level of threat from the virus in that location. We have also established plans for suspending operations if necessary.

Will you ever need to suspend operations again?
We don’t know, but we don’t rule it out. We regularly monitor the state of the virus in our various locations, and we are prepared to adapt in response to changes in the situation. This may mean intensifying or relaxing our preventative measures, temporarily quarantining our program or even suspending operations.

If you shut down the program while I am there or before I get there, will you reimburse the costs of my travel? 
We will try to ensure that volunteers are not financially harmed if we must close our program. We strongly recommend that you obtain travel insurance that insures you against your trip.

I’d like to offer feedback about your COVID-19 safety measures. Whom do I contact?
We welcome feedback. Please use this form to provide feedback directly to the safety team. For matters other than feedback about our safety measures, please see our website: https://www.allhandsandhearts.org/contact-us/

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